This article was written by Chris Rainey
In 1894 a sportswriter at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, most likely Abe Yager, coined the nickname “Deacon” for pitcher Dan Daub. Daub conducted himself in a calm and educated manner, possessed good judgment and did not flinch in tough times. In the writer’s mind, he was the quintessential churchman. On July 1, 1894, the Brooklyn players, including Daub, were arrested after a Sunday game in Cincinnati; “his clerical appearance did not protect him, although if he had worn his street costume he might have been taken for a pillar of the church.”1
Daniel William Daub was born on January 12, 1868, on his parents’ farm in Miltonville, Ohio, in the southwestern part of the state. William and Elizabeth (Leisen) Daub were born in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany. Despite the Civil War, they came to the United States and started their family which included Henry (born in 1865), John (1866), Daniel, Elias (1871), and Catherine (1874). Daub honed his baseball skills in local and regional amateur leagues. He left home in 1890 for Doane Academy, which was associated with Denison University in Granville, Ohio. He is listed in the Class of 1897 at Denison, but never graduated.
Daub began playing for Denison University’s team in 1891 while still in Doane Academy. Baseball was the most popular and successful sport on campus in the early 1890s. The school won the mythical state baseball championship during his tenure and took on larger schools like Notre Dame, Michigan, and the University of Chicago (featuring Amos Alonzo Stagg). Daub “relied on his blinding speed instead of pitching guile.”2 Kenyon College twice lost close games when Daub struck out 21.3 He also tried his hand at football. He played end in 1891 but after a 42-0 pounding by Ohio Wesleyan (touchdowns in those days counted 4 points), no team was fielded in 1892.4 Daub resurrected the team in 1893 and it lost its only game, 24-0 to Otterbein. Daub also earned points for his track team by competing in the baseball throw, once heaving the ball 330 feet.
In the summer of 1892, Daub was pitching in Charleston, West Virginia. The Cincinnati Reds arranged an exhibition there for August 26. Daub, a 5-foot-10, 160-pound right-hander, was recruited to pitch for the local contingent. The Cincinnati Post praised his pitching, saying, “He put the ball over the plate with accuracy and dispatch. He wanted supper and hurried through the game striking out six of the Reds and only giving them six lonesome hits.”5 The Reds barely won and “Comiskey was so caught by his work that he instantly signed him and brought him to Cincinnati.”6 Cincinnati manager Charles Comiskey announced, “I think I have landed the prize youngster in the country. Daub is a good all-around player, he can do 100 yards in 10.5 seconds, and is a splendid batter.”7 Wasting little time, Comiskey started Daub against Boston on August 31. Jack Stivetts held the Reds to one hit and one run in a 5-1 decision, but Daub “did remarkably well. He was a trifle wild, however and his bases on balls were disastrous.” 8 Five Reds errors did not help the cause.
Daub took the box September 4 against Baltimore, but in a steady rain he had trouble gripping the ball and walked four in the first before a rain delay. After the second inning, when he again had issues of control he was pulled from the game trailing 2-1. The Reds eventually lost 6-1. It was three weeks before Daub saw action again. George Meakin started on September 28 against Cleveland, but was yanked after four innings, down 9-4. Daub pitched scoreless ball the rest of the way in the loss. On October 5 Daub pitched for Athens, Ohio, against Nelsonville, Ohio, winning 2-1. Comiskey gave him another try on October 7 in Louisville. “He had excellent command, some puzzling balls, and fielded his position like a veteran,” the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote.9 He gave up two runs in a rainy fourth inning, but a Bugs Holliday home run won it for the Reds in the ninth, 4-3. In the bottom of the frame, Daub was severely spiked at first base on the final play of the game, and had to sit out the last week of the season.
While Daub nursed his spike wound, Comiskey brought in Bumpus Jones, who promptly threw a no-hitter on the last day of the season. Comiskey faced an overabundance of pitchers with veterans Frank Dwyer, Icebox Chamberlain, Tony Mullane, and Mike Sullivan to go with prospects Daub and Jones. In the end Comiskey chose not to reserve Daub, who returned to Denison for the next school year. In the spring of 1893 the Denison baseball team took on all comers. Daub was in the box for most of the games. He took a 12-9 loss against the University of Michigan but came back three days later to defeat the University of Chicago, 11-7. News reached Granville that evening of the win and “the village cast aside its usual somber air and yielded itself to unrestrained … rejoicing.” Hundreds marched through town and professors were called upon to make speeches.10 Known for his fastball, Daub added an “enigmatic and parabolic curve” to his arsenal for the college season.11 Later in the year the Brooklyn Daily Eagle rejoiced in Daub’s delivery of “mystic curves.”12
Daub was free to sign with any professional team he chose; in mid-June of 1893 he accepted an offer from the Chattanooga Warriors in the Class B Southern Association. In six weeks with the Warriors, Daub posted a 7-4 pitching record in 12 games and added six more outfield appearances, batting .250 overall. He signed with Brooklyn on August 2. The Bridegrooms were managed by Dave Foutz, once a 40-win pitcher and now player-manager seeing action primarily at first base and the outfield. Daub lost his debut to the Boston Beaneaters, the top team in the league, on August 5. He went on to post a 6-6 record for the sixth-place team. He returned to the books at Denison when the season ended.
The Bridegrooms sent out contract offers in late January and Daub accepted. His decision to forgo another season of Denison baseball meant “all prospect of a winning team … is thus taken away. This is a hard blow to Denison’s athletes, and threatens to annihilate all interest in college sports.”13 The 1894 season saw an explosion in offense; the National League batting average jumped from .280 to .309. Daub was the number-three man on the Brooklyn staff. This meant that he took irregular turns while Brickyard Kennedy and Ed Stein saw the bulk of the action. Daub tossed 224 innings, Kennedy 360, and Stein 350. As in 1893, Daub made his first start against Boston and lost 7-4. He suffered additional embarrassment when he was declared out at first for missing the bag on a ninth inning “triple,” nullifying a run. Confusion about the call led to the game score’s being reported as 7-5 by the New York Evening World and correctly as 7-4 by Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Inconsistency sums up Daub’s season. On May 5 he beat the big bats of Philadelphia, 4-3, but three days later he faced them again, suffered a lack of control, and lost 18-5. He missed some time in May when he fouled a ball off his forehead and needed stitches. On July 1 Daub and his teammates ran afoul of Cincinnati’s Blue Laws in a 9-7 loss. “The arrest was a purely formal affair, the nine men being allowed to go with a nominal fine. They rode to the police station in a bus, signed several lengthy documents and then drove off.”14 For the season, Daub posted a 10-12 record with a 6.11 ERA.
Daub would repeat his role the next three seasons for Brooklyn. In addition to his playing he helped the Amherst College team prepare in March before joining the Bridegrooms in Charlotte, North Carolina, for spring training. In 1895 he went 10-10 with a 4.29 ERA. Early in 1896 he was loaned to the Hartford Bluebirds in the Atlantic League and won both his starts. He returned to Brooklyn on May 22. Statistically Daub had his best season in 1896, posting a 3.60 ERA and going 12-11. He reported to training camp in great shape for 1897 but his inconsistency resurfaced and he struggled. He made his last major-league appearance against St. Louis on July 9 and was yanked in an 8-3 loss. The Bridegrooms released him soon after and he returned to Ohio.
Daub’s inconsistency may have been attributable to stress in his personal life. He was charged with malicious destruction and discharge of a firearm in 1896. The case arose from an incident at the home of a Mrs. Wescoe. A group pelted her home with stones before she chased them away. Later that night her windows were shot out. Daub hired a legal team and after 16 months, the case was dismissed on July 2, 1897. The district attorney chose not to pursue the case; Daub always maintained his innocence. 15 Daub spent the next three months pitching for whatever team in Southwest Ohio would meet his price. Some reports claimed Cincinnati tried to sign him, but could not meet his terms.16
Daub returned to court on November 10, but under happier circumstances. He applied for a marriage license and he and Nancy Hueston were wed in Seven-Mile, Ohio.17 His bride was from Newark, Ohio, and may have been a sweetheart from his days at Denison. The couple had one child, a daughter Melva, who attended Denison University and became a schoolteacher. After spending the winter of 1897-98 in Ohio, Daub signed a contract with the Omaha Omahogs of the Class A Western League. He and Nancy took the train west and joined an ever-changing roster of former major leaguers and never-to-be youngsters. The team was woefully weak offensively, led by Doggie Miller’s one home run and Denny Lyons’ .291 average. Daub hurled 329 innings and lost 25 games, seeing his team scoreless in nearly half of them. The team went through four managers and the franchise shifted to St. Joseph in July. “The (team) seems to bat their weakest and field their poorest behind Daub,” the hometown Omaha World-Herald wrote.18
Over the next three seasons Daub suffered arm problems and bouts with rheumatism that limited his playing. He was with Buffalo in 1899 and Kansas City in 1900, and finished with the Marion (Indiana) Glass Blowers in 1901. He played semipro ball in West Virginia in 1902 and attempted to catch on with Dayton in 1903, but was turned down. The family lived in Trenton, Ohio, during those times and Daub worked in a paper mill in West Carrollton, Ohio. Any hope of reviving his pitching career ended on March 11, 1904, when he lost a finger on one hand and part of the thumb on the other hand in an accident with a 1,500-pound roll of paper.
Daub took a job as a clerk with National Cash Register and umpired locally. In 1907 he was appointed a Central League umpire. On May 30, umpiring a game between Dayton and Springfield, he made two calls that infuriated Dayton fans and led to a 7-6 Springfield win. Daub had to be escorted from the field by staff and police and then kept safe from a 100-person mob that clamored for his scalp. Dayton manager Ed McKean entered the office where Daub was hiding and punched him before police could stop the attack. McKean was fined $25.19 Daub umpired the rest of the season and had a reputation for a quick temper and fast thumb. He applied for the 1908 season, but was not selected. He went back to umpiring locally. After the Great Flood in Ohio and other states in 1913, he found work with the newly formed Miami Conservancy. Daub was retired by 1930 and he and Nancy resided in upscale Oakwood, Ohio, a suburb of Dayton. They wintered in Florida and Daub died in Bradenton on March 25, 1951. His body was returned to Butler County and he was buried in the Hickory Flats Cemetery, a few miles south of his former home in Trenton.
A special thank-you to Craig Hicks, sports information guru at Denison University, for providing background and sources.
Hamilton (Ohio) Journal News.
Middletown (Ohio) Signal.
1 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 2, 1894: 5. No names appear as a byline with the game stories but Yager was the founder of the sports page. Baseball-Reference suggests Daub was nicknamed Mickey. That would be an unusual choice for a player of German descent. No game story was found using that moniker; perhaps it was a nickname earned later in life.
2 Richard A. Blackburn, The Big Red: One Hundred Years and More of Athletics at Denison, (New York: Vantage Press, 1981), 44-46.
3 Kenyon Collegian, May 1, 1892: 6-7.
4 College Transcript (Ohio Wesleyan, Delaware, Ohio), November 10, 1891: 8.
5 Cincinnati Post, August 27, 1892: 1.
7 New York Sun, August 28, 1892: 5.
8 Fitchburg (Massachusetts) Sentinel, September 1, 1892: 8.
9 Cincinnati Enquirer, October 8, 1892: 2.
10 Newark (Ohio) Advocate, May 9, 1893: 5.
11 Newark (Ohio) Advocate, May 20, 1893: 5.
12 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 11, 1893: 4.
13 Newark (Ohio) Advocate, February 4, 1894. 8.
14 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 2, 1894: 5
15 Sporting Life, July 10, 1897: 1.
16 Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 17, 1897: 6.
17 Cincinnati Enquirer, November 11, 1897: 3.
18 Omaha World-Herald, May 15, 1898: 2.
19 Dayton Daily News, June 3, 1907: 10.